Everyone at SIS tries their best to help.
We appreciate that we are working with some of the most vulnerable and isolated people.
At this terrible time this is even more the case.
In the last 9 months of the pandemic emergency interpreting has almost doubled as a proportion of our work. We can be contacted every day of the year and any time day or night.
People need our support for accidents and emergencies, giving birth and mental health assessments.
Here is one recent example where we did our best to help.
We were called on a Saturday evening by a Staff Nurse at a hospital A&E Department. They urgently needed an interpreter for a teenager who had presented with chest pain. The young man spoke no English and had only arrived in the UK 6 months ago. He appeared to be homeless. Within 10 minutes we had arranged a telephone interpreter. Our interpreter worked for 35 minutes and reported back to SIS that the man was being admitted for observation. He shared a few brief concerns about his situation.
Within 25 minutes we were called again by another colleague in A&E; the patient seemed to want to discharge himself. The Doctor needed an interpreter immediately to explain the risks of doing this. We arranged the same interpreter as earlier within 5 minutes. We pride ourselves on proving continuity of interpreting wherever possible, even in emergencies. It helps us to provide an empathetic and efficient service.
Unfortunately the man discharged himself before any interpreting could happen. The young man was not known to us. We recorded the situation and remained alert for any further contact.
The next day, Sunday afternoon, A&E called again to say the man had returned with chest pain. This time a face to face interpreter was requested and the same interpreter attended A&E within 45 minutes of the call.
The man was admitted to a Cardiac Ward. Staff were able to explain how important it is for him to remain for observation. The interpreter reported back to SIS that the man was anxious about losing his place in a local hostel. He was a little unclear of the name of the hostel. The kind nurse who was caring for him seemed to establish that St Mungo`s may have offered him accommodation having encountered him living on the street. She re-assured him that she would contact St Mungo`s and explain what had happened so that he did not lose his emergency accommodation.
Knowing how busy and tired our hospital colleagues are we decided to also make enquiries on Monday morning. The situation was referred to our Social Prescribing and Advocacy services.
On Monday morning we tried very hard to speak with local services where the man may have been staying. We left several messages but no calls were returned. There was the possibility that services were already closed for the holiday. The same morning the man again discharged himself from the hospital before any contact details could be secured. We updated our records and continue to hope that he is ok and has accommodation.
It can be very challenging to join up the thread of support but we always do our best.